Biden to End COVID Emergency in May

A woman takes off a mask | Image by Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock

President Joe Biden plans to end the nation’s COVID-19 declarations of emergency in the spring.

The president told Congress on Monday that he will end both the national emergency and the public health emergency first declared by the Trump administration in 2020.

The Biden administration has repeatedly extended the declarations, which were set to expire in the coming months. The declarations have empowered the government to spend tax dollars on tests, vaccines, and treatments for COVID-19 among other things.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a recent statement that the measures will be extended again before being terminated on May 11.

“This wind-down would align with the Administration’s previous commitments to give at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of the PHE,” according to an administration policy statement from the OMB.

“First, an abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans,” the statement continued.

The OMB argued that hospitals and nursing homes would be “plunged into chaos” if the declarations were ended immediately, as they would not have “adequate time to retrain staff and establish new billing processes.”

Mike Malaise, senior vice president of communications and external relations for Parkland Health, told The Dallas Express that the terminations of the emergency declarations will have “no significant impact” on the local hospital.

He shared additional context pertaining to the recently-passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, which decouples continuous Medicaid eligibility from the Public Health Emergency.

“Starting April 1st, the state will start disenrolling individuals who are no longer eligible for Medicaid and asking others to re-enroll,” Malaise said. “This will create challenges for patients who rely on that coverage as well as taxpayers who will see increased taxpayer costs due to a reduction in covered families and individuals.”

Malaise continued, “While the state Medicaid agency and stakeholders are working hard to ensure eligible individuals are able to renew their CHIP and Medicaid benefits, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

The OMB statement also said that the end of the public health emergency will end the Title 42 border policy.

Title 42 was activated under then-President Trump in March 2020 and has been used to remove more than 2.5 million unlawful migrants since the beginning of the pandemic.

The policy was set to expire in December, but its lifting was blocked by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

“While the Administration has attempted to terminate the Title 42 policy and continues to support an orderly lifting of those restrictions, Title 42 remains in place because of orders issued by the Supreme Court and a district court in Louisiana,” the OMB statement reads. “Enactment of H.R. 382 would lift Title 42 immediately, and result in a substantial additional inflow of migrants at the Southwest border.”

Two bills — H.R. 382 and H.J. Res. 7 — are set to be voted on in Congress. These bills would terminate both emergency declarations if passed.

The White House has clearly stated that it “strongly opposes” both bills, claiming that their enactment “would be a grave disservice to the American people.”

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), who authored H.R. 382, previously said in a press release that the legislation is necessary because ending the COVID-19 public health emergency is “long overdue.”

“President Biden’s inaction and lack of transparency on this are unacceptable,” he added.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said he has yet to hear “the rationale” for the Biden administration’s announcement.

“I’m sure that they have one, I just haven’t heard it,” Kaine said.

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